U.S. special envoy for Iran and Venezuela Elliott Abrams testifies during a Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearing on U.S. Policy in the Middle East on Capitol Hill, Sept. 24, 2020, Washington, D.C. Credit: Susan Walsh-Pool/via Getty Images.
U.S. special envoy for Iran and Venezuela Elliott Abrams testifies during a Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearing on U.S. Policy in the Middle East on Capitol Hill, Sept. 24, 2020, Washington, D.C. Credit: Susan Walsh-Pool/via Getty Images.
featureU.S.-Israel Relations

‘America should never stop transferring arms to its closest ally’

Former U.S. official Elliott Abrams, chairman of the Tikvah Fund, called the Hamas massacre a "wake-up call that Biden's Iran policy has failed."

Elliott Abrams, who served as a senior official in previous Republican administrations and whose last role was enforcing sanctions on the Iranian regime during the Trump administration, opposes delays in U.S. arms shipments to Israel.

“I don’t know what and how much has been held up, but it shouldn’t have happened. The level of delay should be zero,” Abrams tells Israel Hayom in an exclusive interview in the wake of the recent clash between the Biden administration and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 

He emphasized that “America’s closest friend in the Middle East suffered a terrible attack, so we should never stop transferring weapons to her.”

Abrams currently serves as chairman of the Tikvah Fund and will participate in the 21st Herzliya Conference at Reichman University.

According to Abrams, “At the end of Trump’s term, Iran was facing bankruptcy. The Biden administration’s abandonment of the sanctions policy led to a significant strengthening of the Islamic Republic.”

He added, “If Trump had received four more years, the regime would have faced a choice between economic collapse and mass uprising, or halting the nuclear program. But then the Biden administration came and essentially stopped enforcing the sanctions, to the point that today Iran’s currency reserves stand at about $50 billion. Therefore, what needs to be done is to return to the sanctions policy and enforce it.”

Q: In your opinion, will sanctions be enough? After all, this has been tried for many years, and it has never stopped Iran.

“I think we need to start with enforcing sanctions. Also, Britain and France need to activate the snapback mechanism [returning the U.N. Security Council sanctions that were lifted under the nuclear deal], but this needs to be backed by a credible threat of force. All recent U.S. administrations, including Joe Biden’s and Barack Obama’s, said they would not accept a nuclear Iran and threatened to use force if necessary.”

According to Abrams, Iran has halted the advancement of its nuclear program on rare occasions.

“This happened when Bush invaded Iraq in 2003, and when Trump eliminated Qassem Soleimani in 2020,” he said. “The U.S. needs to be ready to use force in Iran, but credibility is critical here. Only if they are convinced that the U.S. is willing to act will they stop.”

Q: What is the significance of the Hamas attack and everything that happened afterward from an American and global perspective?

A: “For many in the United States, particularly on the Republican side, this is a wake-up call that Biden’s policy has failed, and he’s trying to push off the problem and quiet it until the elections.”

Abrams claims that the U.S. president tried for two and a half years to revive the nuclear deal with Iran until he realized they weren’t interested.

“Iran has benefited from this situation, and everyone outside the administration sees it as a failure,” he said. “Moreover, for the last 100 years, the U.S. has viewed keeping the Red Sea shipping lanes open and safe as one of its most important missions, and the Houthis have pretty much managed to end that. The Suez Canal is almost completely closed, as is the Red Sea. The U.S. is currently in a defensive posture. We’re intercepting the Houthis’ missiles, but we’ve come to terms with them doing what they’re doing. In my opinion, the U.S. needs to punish the Houthis and Iran for this.”

Q: Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said that these days remind her of the 1930s. Do you agree?

A: “I think the most dangerous thing ahead of us is a war with China, but to me, this is reminiscent of the 1970s. At that time, after the Vietnam War, there was a feeling that the U.S. was weakening and retreating from its involvement in the world, and that its rival then, the USSR, was on the rise. President Jimmy Carter talked, not unlike Obama, about the need to be less involved in the world, and that ended when Ronald Reagan was elected president. My hope is that we can change this. It all depends on leadership.”

Originally published by Israel Hayom.

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